Brut in New Troy (virtual conference)
25–28 June 2021
From at least the twelfth until well into the seventeenth century, the ‘standard’ version of Britain’s history held that the realm’s founder was an exiled descendant of Aeneas called Brutus (or Brut), who came to the island with a band of Trojans, conquered the hostile giants living there, and named the land ‘Britain’ (or ‘Britannia’) after himself. The moment that marks Brut’s transition from warrior to king is his foundation of the capital city of New Troy, later known as London.
Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regum Britanniae (c. 1138) first popularized this matter and offered a history of Britain until its conquest by the Saxons, thus giving rise to the long-lived and diverse Brut tradition of the ‘legendary history’ of Britain. In the high and late Middle Ages, on both sides of the Channel, lay and clerical writers translated and transformed Geoffrey’s Historia according to their own interests and purposes, in prose and in verse, and in Latin, continental and Anglo-Norman French, English, Welsh, and several other European languages. Many of these writers extended the narrative far beyond its original conclusion, bringing the story past the fall of the ancient Britons and all the way up to contemporary times. Britain’s legendary history continued to be reimagined after the medieval period. Writers as late as John Milton (in his 1677 History of Britain) and even Charles Dickens (in his 1851-53 Child’s History of England) continued to draw on the Brut tradition: its profound and lasting influence on conceptions of Britain’s earliest past cannot be overstated.
‘Brut in New Troy’ is the first scholarly conference devoted to the Brut tradition as a whole. With over 30 papers running the chronological and disciplinary gamut, the conference provides a forum for comparative, multilingual, cross-period, and cross-disciplinary discussion of Brut-related works and manuscripts, both canonical and less familiar, and by no means limited to ‘legendary’ material. It features keynote addresses by Professor Jane Roberts, esteemed scholar of Lawman’s Brut and Old and Middle English language and literature, and Professor Christopher Baswell, renowned expert of medieval literature and manuscript studies, especially narratives about the classical and legendary pasts.
The conference will take place via Zoom. Registration is free but required for access to sessions. To register, and to view the provisional programme, please visit the conference website: www.brutinnewtroy.co.uk.